*Check against delivery*Call to Code Awards Ceremony - Google HQ1 May 2014
It is a great pleasure to join you today to celebrate some of the most talented young coders in the country. I would like to thank all of the competitors for your hard work today and congratulations to you all for qualifying for the final round of the competition.
I would also like to thank the parents and teachers here today who have worked so hard to provide a supportive and encouraging environment to our competitors and Google for hosting us in this fantastic facility and for sponsoring this competition.
Google has been in Dublin for over 10 years now and has grown in Ireland as it has grown internationally. When Google first opened its European headquarters in Dublin it employed 100 people.
Today, the Irish operation is Google’s largest office outside of the US and employs over 2,500 people.
I am pleased to say that Google’s presence in Ireland continues to grow with the news this week that Dublin County Council has granted planning permission for the second of Google’s Irish Data Centres to be built beside its existing data centre facility in Clondalkin. The data centre is expected to create about 300 construction jobs as well as around 60 new full-time positions at the new facility itself.
And while investments like these – investments in bricks and mortar – are of the utmost importance, I must say that I am just as excited by the investment that I see Google making here today. It is an investment in the boundless talent and enthusiasm of our young people.
It is something that I see regularly when I travel overseas and something that our Embassy network and IDA Ireland report on regularly when they meet with companies with investments in Ireland: Our greatest selling point – what makes companies not just invest in Ireland but expand in Ireland as Google has done – is the talent and the ingenuity of our people. We – government and industry together – must continue to invest in that talent and I am pleased to see Google playing their part.
We all know the strategic importance of the ICT sector to Ireland. It accounts for over €70 billion in exports every year. There are 44,500 job openings forecast to arise between now and 2018 in the sector. If you remember no other number from today remember that one – 44,500 job openings in the next 3 to 4 years.
In 2011 domestic supply only met 45% of the demand for ICT recruits in Ireland. That figure is now estimated at over 60%, and the Government’s ICT Skills Action Plan, which was published in February, sets out an ambitious target of meeting three quarters of demand through domestic supply by 2018.
There is no single solution to ensuring that we have the necessary supply of skills to achieve this target. Instead, a sustained effort will be required in both mainstream education and in training, conversion and reskilling programmes. The contribution of industry to these efforts will also be vital and that is why initiatives like the Call to Code competition are so welcome.
The aim of the Call to Code competition is to give every student in Ireland a chance to realise that they are capable of learning to code, and to come to love it. It is clear from the 2,500 students who took part in the competition that there are already many students in our schools with an interest in coding. It would also seem from the group of young people here today that most of those participants were boys. While all students must be able to pursue their individual interests without schools or government dictating to them that “we need more girls to be interested in this” or that “more boys should do that”, we must also ensure that we do not allow unconscious bias or gender stereotypes to affect the type of encouragement that is given to boys and girls.
Part of the Government’s ICT Skills Action Plan focuses on making sure that young female students hear from female role models in the ICT sector through partnerships with websites such as Silicon Republic and SmartFutures.ie and I hope that these efforts will lead to more girls being inspired to get involved in coding in the years to come.
Our ambition is for Ireland to be among the most entrepreneurial nations in the world. There are few drivers which will be more important to job creation in the coming years than the development of ICT skills. With the skills that you have already learned and which you displayed here today I hope that many of you can go on to become the entrepreneurs and the job creators of the future.
Congratulations again and best of luck to you all in the years to come.